Increasing sustainability of both Cork’s urban and rural communities

Increasing sustainability of both Cork’s urban and rural communities

At the announcement that their respective projects are to be awarded supports from the €200,000 Sustainable Cork Fund created by Rethink Ireland in partnership with Cork Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Rural and Community Development were: Claire Mackey, Gateway to Inclusion Project Coordinator at Nasc; Garry Fitzpatrick, Lead Project Coordinator for Refill Ireland; Noreen Hegarty, General Manager of NCE Outreach; Caroline O’Driscoll, Board Director at Rethink Ireland and Paula Cogan, President of Cork Chamber. They are pictured with Sustainable Cork signage made from recycled materials by ReCreate.
Picture: Darragh Kane

CREATED by Rethink Ireland (formerly known as Social Innovation Fund Ireland) and the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund, the Sustainable Cork Fund was set up in partnership with Cork Chamber of Commerce as part of its 200th anniversary celebration.

It is a €200,000 fund to support not-for-profit organisations in increasing the sustainability of Cork’s urban and rural communities through environmental, social and economic innovations.

With a focus on projects and initiatives that make a positive impact on climate change and environmental awareness, community inclusion and cohesion, and sustainable employment and economic development, three very exciting, forward-thinking organisations have been awarded support and investment from the Sustainable Cork Fund.

Nasc, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, aims to realise the rights of all migrants and refugees within Irish society.

Their Gateway to Inclusion project provides free, specially tailored English language classes in a women-only, supportive environment, empowering refugee women to overcome the barriers, such as trauma, domestic violence and isolation in their community, that prevent them from gaining formal education or employment.

Fiona Finn, CEO of Nasc, stated: “A lot of refugee women are marginalised. Our project brings them together. It’s about learning in a very inclusive environment. We develop their strengths and work with them to achieve their education and employment goals.”

When asked what it meant to become an awardee of the Sustainable Cork Fund, Fiona added: “I think it shows that when we’re looking at building a sustainable Cork, there’s a recognition that we have to bring everybody with us.”

Based at Farranferris Education and Training Campus, NCE Outreach caters for over 100 people in recovery from all forms of addiction from all over Ireland. Run in a safe and non-judgmental environment, the project provides training and personal development with the aim to create part-time employment opportunities at NCE and feed into the development of a community-based, living lab for sustainability in Cork City.

“We believe that all people have the right to reintegrate, re-educate, train and gain the relevant experience to progress to full time employment. That’s the ethos of the company,” said Noreen Hegarty, general manager of Northway Community Enterprises.

“The emphasis is always on recovery. That’s what we’re all going for.”

A social enterprise that wants to eliminate the need for single-use plastic water bottles, aims to provide an alternative, free-to-use refill network showing people in Cork, via their ‘Tap Map’, where to find free tap water in their area and refill their reusable bottles.

Working with local businesses and county councils to educate, advocate and promote the installation of more refill points, Garry Fitzpatrick, Lead Project Coordinator at Refill said: “More than two million plastic bottles are used every day in Ireland. To eradicate their use, it’s really important that everyone is able to access water when they’re out and about without needing to buy water. We’re in Cork to find a location for a new Community Refill Hub, which will provide free-to-use, fresh drinking water to the public.”

Voicing thanks to all of the donors who have contributed to the fund, Caroline O’Driscoll, Board Director at Rethink Ireland said: “These three awardees celebrate all that’s great about social innovation in our region in terms of empowerment of women, and the sustainable development goals. I think that’s incredibly heartening in today’s world.”

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